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Summary for 1402 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 1975700340 / Inv #

Historic Name: Joseph Vance Building Common Name:
Style: Art Deco Neighborhood: Commercial Core
Built By: Year Built: 1929
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
This property is directly associated with the early twentieth century developmental era (1920-1930) when a significant number of commercial buildings were constructed and the modern downtown commercial district was fully established. In 1923 Seattle adopted its first ordinance that regulated specific geographic areas for specified uses; it allowed the most densely concentrated commercial development to occur in the downtown core. The economic prosperity of the 1920s stimulated the development of numerous major highrise commercial buildings, as well as dozens of smaller-scale bank and commercial buildings, major hotels and apartment hotels, club buildings and entertainment facilities, which were typically designed by leading Seattle architects. During this era, the original residential district was entirely absorbed by commercial and other real estate development. By 1930, virtually all of the old residential properties - as well as many of the immediate post-fire era commercial buildings outside of Pioneer Square - had been demolished or removed. Numerous highly distinctive commercial highrise buildings dating from this era have already been designated as City landmarks, including the: Shafer Building (1923); the Dexter Horton (1922); Terminal Sales (1923); Medical Dental Building (1925); Skinner Building (1925); Fourth & Pike (Liggett) Building (1927); 1411 Fourth Avenue (1929); Great Northern Building (1929); Exchange Building (1929); Northern Life Tower (1929); and the Olympic Tower (1929). This 14-story highrise commercial building was constructed for a highly successful lumberman, Joseph Vance, who turned to real estate development during this era. Constructed in 1929, it replaced the Yale Block and was initially designed and planned to be a hotel (named the Earl Hotel, see note below) to be constructed at a cost of $1 million. Reportedly, bids were obtained in September 1928, but by May 1929 the project had been downsized and the program changed to commercial office building. The Joseph Vance Building is one of several highrise commercial buildings constructed during this era that share similar exterior cladding and architectural treatment. Each is located at a prominent corner of a downtown block with matching facades at each major elevation, which exhibit strong vertical qualities that reinforce the highrise architectural character. Typically, the use of glazed terra cotta complements and reveals the underlying structural system and allowed designers to utilize the range of eclectic architecture styles that were particularly popular during this era. In this case, the architectural details are drawn from the Moderne and Art Deco design mode; however it is a modest example of this style. The Shafer Building (1927) and the Fourth & Pike (Liggett) Building (1927) are richly embellished with Gothic detailing, a more common commercial and high-rise application. Joseph A. Vance (1897-1948) was born in Quebec, Canada and moved to Tacoma in 1890 where he was involved with railway construction. By 1897, he had built and was operating a small lumber mill operation near Elma, Washington. He then founded the Vance Lumber Company in 1908; this highly successful milling operation was sold in 1918. Vance moved to Seattle and began to invest in real estate and became involved with developing personal business and commercial properties, including: the Vance Hotel (Hotel Max, 1927); the Lloyd Building (1928) and the subject Vance Building (1929). All three of these buildings were designed by Victor W. Voorhees. By 1931, the Vance Lumber Company had also acquired the Camlin Hotel and at some point the company appears to have also acquired the Hotel Continental (Hotel Seattle). It was renamed the Hotel Earl – the original name intended for the hotel at this site. Earl was the name of Vance’s sons. Lloyd was the name of another one of his sons. During this era, Joseph Vance also purchased a lot of vacant land and developed parking lots. Another son, George Vance began to operate the company during the 1930s. It later became known as the Vance Corporation. They bought the Textile Tower and in the late 1960s developed the Plaza 600 Building and expanded the hotel empire to other parts of Washington State and Hawaii. By 1985, the assets of the Vance Corp equaled $72 million. Victor Voorhees (1876-1970) was a particularly prolific Seattle architect. His Seattle career began in 1904, when he migrated from the Midwest to work in the building department of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Line. From 1907 to 1911, through the publication of Western Home Builder, a plan book catalog of his residential designs, he was responsible for the design of hundreds – possibly thousands – of single-family homes constructed in Seattle. These house designs, although varied, have recognizable features and detailing. Extant examples can be found in neighborhoods throughout Seattle, but in particular on Wallingford, Queen Anne Hill and Capitol Hill. He is also known to have designed a significant number of commercial buildings constructed from 1910 through the 1930s. As noted above, he designed three large commercial buildings for the Vance Lumber Company, the subject building, the Vance Hotel and the Lloyd Building. He appears to have also worked on smaller projects for the company as well, including: the Seattle Engineering School (adapted to Marqueen Apartments). [Both Joseph Vance and Victor Voorhees had ties to railway construction and there may have been a long-time professional relationship.] Voorhees is known to have designed several automobile showrooms/dealerships, the Georgetown City Hall; apartment houses including the Washington Arms on Capitol Hill and numerous small neighborhood commercial buildings, laundries, warehouses and industrial buildings, as well as residences. He continued to practice in Seattle until c.1955. The distinctive original exterior appearance of this building has been altered and portions of the terra cotta are missing and in poor condition. The construction of a modern retail storefront level has further diminished the historic architectural character of the building. However, the building is unusual for its terra cotta design and polychromatic ornament. Furthermore, it is directly associated with a person of significant, Joseph A. Vance and a noteworthy Seattle architect, Victor W. Voorhees. [This property was previously determined eligible for listing in the National Register by the SHPO. It may potentially meet local landmark criteria.]
Prominently located at the sloping NW corner of Third Avenue and Union Street, this 14-story office building originally housed ten retail shops and upper floor level office, purposes for which it continues to be used. It measures 115’ x 111’ and exhibits a two-part vertical block façade composition and somewhat modest Moderne and Art Deco style architectural design elements. The reinforced concrete structure includes a foundation and basement and is entirely clad (see note below) with tan-color terra cotta and accented with polychrome terra cotta trim. The two-story building base has been extensively altered although original tripartite second floor level windows and a floral decorated terra cotta frieze remain in place. The shaft elevations are very similar in design and composition with recessed window bays divided vertically by uninterrupted major and minor piers extending from the base to the roofline. The alternating widths of narrow and wider piers (with those at the center bays further articulated with raised pilasters) serve to create a distinctive rhyme across both facades. Recessed spandrels are typically decorated with narrow vertical ribs with the exception of those at the third floor level that are sculpted with central rose-color medallions inscribed with a gilded “V” (in recognition of the principal building developer) and those at the 13th and 14th floor levels that exhibit stylized leaf motifs. All of the original upper floor level windows appear to remain in place. At the roofline, the narrow parapet is stepped to emphasize the central piers and further embellished with stylized plant motifs in the Art Deco design mode. The pier caps of the major piers are subdivided and culminate in a fiddlehead fern motif and checkerboard patterns are used to further emphasize the piers and roofline edge. The design and character of the entire storefront level has been significantly altered with inappropriate modern retail storefront construction using synthetic stucco. Portions of terra cotta cladding at the upper four floor levels (on the Third Avenue elevation) appear to have been removed due to damage and/or serious deterioration. There do not appear to be any intact or architecturally significant interior building features, finishes or public spaces.

Detail for 1402 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 1975700340 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Terra cotta Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Professional Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: fourteen
Unit Theme(s): Commerce
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Storefront: Extensive
Changes to Windows: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture, A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
Courtois, Shirley L. METRO Downtown Seattle Transit Project FEIS Inventory Form, 1984.
Aldredge, Lydia. Impressions of Imagination: Terra Cotta Seattle, Allied Arts of Seattle, 1986.
'Joseph A. Vance Dies in Shelton" Seattle Times, June 30, 1948.

Photo collection for 1402 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 1975700340 / Inv #

Photo taken May 23, 2006
App v2.0.1.0